Madly Singing in the Mountains

Orgiva 27th January 2018
 
Two Arrows
 
 
 
Whenever I go on a retreat, there is always one day when I fall apart, a dark night of the soul. You never see the arrow coming so you can’t dodge it but truly, it always ends in a lot of tears. The Buddhists have a very good teaching about this arrow, because it is always followed by a second arrow. The first arrow hits and we are scythed to the ground. Perhaps we made a terrible mistake at work and got found out, or someone hurts us, or we get bad news, whatever it is, there is no escaping it. We can lie whimpering on the ground for hours, days or even weeks.
 
The second arrow is much more interesting because it is how we react to the first arrow. This arrow is in our own hand and we can plunge it into our heart and twist it around in self pity. We can stick it in our belly and sicken ourselves with vengeful fury. We can open a vein in our thigh and let our precious life blood seep slowly onto the ground in self loathing. Or we can take that arrow and snap the thing in half over our knee and continue on our way, stringing pearls for heaven.
 
Often we need somone else to help us see that there are a variety of choices and in my case, thank god for Facebook Messenger! I was talked out of my tearful, snotty misery by a friend who just stayed with me and talked about art and soup but refused to give me advice. I was told that direction must come from within and work outwards. Hmph, I thought, (looking at that second arrow in my hand).
 
So I pondered the difference between acceptance and passivity. Acceptance is acknowledging the reality of the situation you are in, even if it causing you pain. It is what it is. At some point you will get up and see what you can do to change it, but ignoring or denying it causes even deeper suffering. Passivity just accepts that it is what it is and makes no effort to change anything, which usually makes us feel worse than ever. The same friend read this poem to me:
 
It is nonsense
says reason
It is what it is
says love
 
It is calamity
says calculation
It is nothing but pain
says fear
It is hopeless
says insight
It is what it is
says love
 
It is ludicrous
says pride
It is foolish
says caution
It is impossible
says experience
It is what it is
says love
 
 Erich Fried
 

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